That He who is the Pre-Eminent Cause of Everything Intelligibly Perceived is not Himself any one of the Things Intelligibly Perceived.
Once more, ascending yet higher we maintain [537] that It is not soul, or mind, or endowed with the faculty of imagination, conjecture, reason, or understanding; nor is It any act of reason or understanding; nor can It be described by the reason or perceived by the understanding, since It is not number, or order, or greatness, or littleness, or equality, or inequality, and since It is not immovable nor in motion, or at rest, and has no power, and is not power or light, and does not live, and is not life; nor is It personal essence, or eternity, or time; nor can It be grasped by the understanding since It is not knowledge or truth; nor is It kingship or wisdom; nor is It one, nor is It unity, nor is It Godhead [538] or Goodness; nor is It a Spirit, as we understand the term, since It is not Sonship or Fatherhood; nor is It any other thing such as we or any other being can have knowledge of; nor does It belong to the category of non-existence or to that of existence; nor do existent beings know It as it actually is, nor does It know them as they actually are; [539] nor can the reason attain to It to name It or to know It; nor is it darkness, nor is It light, or error, or truth; [540] nor can any affirmation or negation [541] apply to it; for while applying affirmations or negations to those orders of being that come next to It, we apply not unto It either affirmation or negation, inasmuch as It transcends all affirmation by being the perfect and unique Cause of all things, and transcends all negation by the pre-eminence of Its simple and absolute nature-free from every limitation and beyond them all. [542]

[514] Lit. "Super-Essential, Supra-Divine, Super-Excellent."

[515] Lit. "Oracles" i. e. to the most exalted and mystical teaching of Holy Scripture.

[516] Gk. agnostos refers to a transcendent or spiritual Unknowing (as disinguished from mere ignorance).

[517] "The Super-Essential Ray of Divine Darkness."

[518] i. e. Philosophers and unmystical theologians.

[519] i. e. Those who accept "popular theology." The first stage of theistic Religion is anthropomorphic, and God is thought of (like Jehovah) as a magnified man of changing moods. Popular religion seldom rises above this level, and even gifted theologians often sink to it. But it is, D. tells us, the lowest stage. Then comes a metaphysical stage. God is now thought of as a timeless Being and therefore changeless, but the conception of a magnified man has been refined rather than abolished. The ultimate truth about God and our relation to Him is held to be that He is a "Person" and that He has "made" the world. (This attitude is seen at its worst in Unitarian theology. Bradley's criticisms on Lotze show how this fails on the intellectual side. The Doctrine of the Trinity, by insisting on an unsolved Mystery in God, prevents Orthodox theology from resting permanently in this morass, though it often has one foot there.) And non-Christian thinkers, in opposition to this conception, regard the ultimate Reality as impersonal, which is a worse error still. We must get beyond our partial conceptions of "personality," "impersonality," etc. They are useful and necessary up to a point, but the Truth lies beyond them and is to be apprehended to a supernatural manner by what later writers call "infused" contemplation. The sum of the whole matter is that God is incomprehensible.

[520] On Via Affirmativa and Via Negativa, vide Intr., p. 26 f.

[521] No writings of St. Bartholomew are extant. Possibly D. s inventing, though not necessarily.

[522] Vide Intr., p. 21. "Beyond Good and Evil" (though not in Nietzsche's sense). When evil disappears Good ceases to be an opposition to it, and so Good attains a new condition.

[523] In the following passage we get the three stages tabulated by later Mystical Theology: (1) Purgation, (2) Illumination, (3) Union.

[524] See Intr., p. 27, on the ecstasy. D.s terminology is always exact though exuberant--or rather exuberant because exact. And, since if the mind, in thinking of any particular thing, gives itself to that thing and so belongs to it, in utterly ceasing to belong to itself it ceases to have any self-consciousness and possesses a God-consciousness instead. This would be a mere merging of the personality, but that the Godhead, according to D., is of such a paradoxical nature as to contain all the creatures fused and yet distinct (Intr , p. 28) so the self is merged on one side of its being and distinct on the other. If I lose myself in God, still it will always be "I" that shall lose myself There.

[525] This simile shows that the Via Negativa is, in the truest sense, positive. Our "matter-moulded forms" of thought are the really negative things. (Cf. Bergson.) A sculptor would not accept a block of ice in place of a block of marble (for ice will not carve into a statue); and yet the block of marble is not, as such, a statue. So, too, the Christian will not accept an impersonal God instead of a personal God (for an impersonal Being cannot be loved), and yet a "personal" God is not, as such, the Object of the Mystical quest. The conception of Personality enshrines, but is not, the Ultimate Reality. If D. were open to the charge of pure negativity so often brought against him, he would have wanted to destroy his block of marble instead of carving it.

[526] Namely, in the Divine Names and in the Outlines; see Chap. III.

[527] In the Divine Names D. begins with the notion of Goodness (which he holds to be possessed by all things) and proceeds thence to Existence (which is not possessed by things that are either destroyed or yet unmade), and thence to Wisdom (which is not possessed either by unconscious or irrational forms of Life), and thence to qualities (such as Righteousness, Salvation, Omnipotence) or combinations of opposite qualities (such as Greatness and Smallness) which are not, in the full sense, applicable to any creature as such. Thus by adding quality to quality ("Existence" to "Goodness," "Life" to "Existence," "Wisdom" to "Life," "Salvation," etc., to "Wisdom") he reaches the conception of God. But he constantly reminds us in the Divine Names that these qualities apply adequately only to the manifested Godhead which, in Its ultimate Nature, transcends them.

[528] The process from the universal to the particular is the process of actual development (existence before life, and life before rationality, etc.); the converse is the natural process of thought, which seeks to refer things to their universal laws of species, etc. (Divine Names, V. 3). But this latter process is not in itself the Via Negativa, but only the ground plan of it, differing from it as a ground plan of a mountain path differs from a journey up the actual path itself. The process of developing life complicates, but enriches, the world; that of thought simplifies, but eviscerates it. Contemplation, being an act of the human spirit, is a process of developing life, and yet follows the direction of thought. Hence it enriches and simplifies at the same time.

[529] Cf. p. 194, n. 1.

[530] The Good = (1) the Undifferentiated Godhead, and hence, in Manifestion, (2) God the Father as the Fount of Godhead to the other Persons. The Rays = God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, who, as manifested Differentiations, eternally proceed from the Father. The separate being of the Three Persons exists on the plane of Manifestation (cf. St. Augustine, who says: "They exist secundum relativum and not secundum essentiam"). [Augustine sacs non secundum substantiam. The translator quotes it correctly in his introduction, p. 10.--Ed.] But this plane is eternal. They wholly interpenetrate, and the state of rest is co-eternal with the Act of Their Procession, because They possess eternal repose and eternal motion.

[531] This is a case of communicatio idiomatum (cf. the title "Mother of God" applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary). The Godhead of our Lord is Super-Essential, not His Manhood.

[532] The Symbolical Divinity was an attempt to spiritualize "popular" theology, the Divine Names sought to spiritualize philosophical theology, the present treatise is a direct essay to Spiritual Theology.

[533] At the last stage but one the mind beholds an Object to which all terms of thought are inadequate. Then, at the last stage, even the distinction between Subject and Object disappears, and the mind itself is That Which it contemplates. Thought itself is transcended, and the whole Object-realm vanishes. One Subject now knows itself as the part and knows itself as the Whole.

[534] In the Divine Names the order of procedure was: Goodness, Existence, Life, etc. Now it passes from sense-perception to thought.

[535] This shows that the Via Negativa is not purely negative.

[536] Being about to explain, in these two last chapters, that no material or mental qualities are present in the Godhead, D. safeguards the position against pure negativity by explaining that they are not absent either. The rest of this chapter deals with the qualities (1) of inanimate matter; (2 ) of material life.

[537] It is not (1) a Thinking Subject; nor (2) an Act or Faculty of Thought; nor (3) an Object of Thought.

[538] Divine Names, II. 7. Godhead is regarded as the property of Deified men, and so belongs to relativity.

[539] It knows only Itself, and there knows all things in their Super-Essence--sub specie aeternitatis.

[540] Truth is an Object of Thought. Therefore, being beyond objectivity, the ultimate Reality is not Truth. But still less is It Error.

[541] Cf. p. 199, n. 2.

[542] It is (1) richer than all concrete forms of positive existence; (2) more simple than the barest abstraction. (Cf. p. 196, n. i.)

chapter iv that he who
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